“Candide”: Optimism Demolished (review). Michael Weber. Philosophy and Literature, Volume 17, Number 2, October , pp. (Review). Published. Candide: optimism demolished / Haydn Mason. Candide. Physical Description : xvi, p. ; 23 cm. ISBN: (pbk.) (cloth). Locate a. Candide: Optimism Demolished by Haydn Mason, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide.
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Quite apart from the pleasure of seeing afresh Thoreau’s humor and integrity, we have the pleasure ofreading about them from a critic perfecdy attuned to Thoreau, who approaches thinking and writing in the same spirit.
Bickman’s lucid readings impressively attend to Thoreau’s rich language— etymological puns being one example—but he, too, writes richly allusive prose. We thus enjoy reimmersing ourselves in Thoreau’s search for ways to search demolishwd trudi.
True to his subject, Bickman denies us the pot of gold at the end candidd the rainbow we have ridden: Its meanings reside, rather, in the rich, fluid, often unsettling experience of reading it, not in detachable statements suitable for sticking on buttons or bumpers.
Twayne’s Masterwork Studies offer critical readings of “the classics” by renowned “experts” for the use of students and teachers from the secondary through the university level.
A dubious industry at best, such collections are seldom to be recommended; but for this particular assignment, Twayne’s scholarly scouting could not have been sounder: Mason’s study consists of seven chapters, of which the first four concern themselves with the background and fortunes of Voltaire’s masterpiece, while the last three which together comprise three-fourths of the book present a detailed reading of the conte from the viewpoints of its ideological, narrative, and stylistic aspects.
The “background” chapters are, generally speaking, fairly standard stuff tracing the development of Voltaire’s disenchantment widi philosophical optimism and die wary critical reception of his tale.
Mason points out diat owing to its slight form, its flippancy, and its occasional obscenity, Candide needed well over a century to attain anything like the status of an accepted “classic,” and this vemolished recognition can be largely credited to the ardent admiration dmolished Flaubert.
In the second chapter, Mason adumbrates the qualities which he Reviews believes enabled Candide’s eventual establishment as a masterpiece: Human beings are not only greedy, treacherous, and unpredictable, but also delightfully foolish. Chapter 5 inaugurates Mason’s own interpretation of the conte with an examination ofits “Philosophy and Meaning.
The pages that follow are perhaps the most important in the book, as Mason addresses the controversies surrounding the conclusion of Candide and the Eldorado interlude. In particular, he challenges the revisionist reading advanced by Roy Wolper and Theodore Braun to the effect that Candide remains a satiric butt even cadnide the famous last words of the conte.
Mason defdy shows how such an interpretation rests on candidde misreading or non-reading of various details in the final chapter, such as Candide’s attitude toward the Baron, and the place of boredom on the farm pp.
As for Eldorado, Mason argues that it is indeed a model for imitation, but more in candde than in precise details: Accordingly, the next chapter, the longest in the book, deals with the lessons and consolations to be derived from personal relationships in the tale.
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